Port Blair, July 03: Mr. Kuldeep Rai Sharma, PCC President invited the attention of the Lt. Governor, A & N Islands towards various issues pertaining to the ASHA workers engaged by the District Health Society in these Islands under the National Health Mission. In his letter Mr. Kuldeep said that the ASHA workers going through severe financial hardship owing to payment of meager honorarium of Rs.1000/- per month and very paltry & untimely payment of incentives for the varieties of health services they render to the society.
As a matter of fact, these ASHA workers are the back bone of the primary health care delivery system as they provide the very basic awareness on health and its social determinants within the framework of government provided health services. Despite being the integral part of the government provided health services, there is no regular recruitment of ASHAs and the payment which they receive doesn’t commensurate the duties being performed by them.
Going through the “Roles and Responsibilities” assigned to the ASHA workers as promulgated vide various Office Orders of District Health Society, it becomes evident that the approach of the government has been to provide all basic health services through ASHA workers rather than recruited permanent employees. If such being the intent of the government, the ASHAs need to be paid adequately so as to meet their livelihood. Mr. Kuldeep submitted the following demands before the Hon’ble Lt. Governor, A & N islands and requested appropriate early action considering the emphasis being laid by the government on women empowerment and all ASHA workers being women particularly belonging from the weaker section of society, so that socio economic justice is done to the ASHA workers:
1) Increase in monthly remuneration: The fixed monthly remuneration of Rs.1000/- to be increased and at least to be brought at par with the monthly wages of Rs. 6000/- being currently paid to the Anganwadi Workers in these Islands. It is imperative to mention that the Government of Kerala is paying monthly remuneration of Rs.7500/- to ASHA workers in addition to incentives for various health care activities and services they perform.
2) Regular and timely payment of incentive: The payment of incentive for health care activities and services being performed by the ASHAs is very irregular. Also, there have been instances when payment of incentive has not been made to the ASHAs either due to shortage of fund or due to office misplacing the records submitted by the ASHAs for their claim of incentives.
3) Appointment against leave vacancies: In the event of ANMs and Ayahs of the Health Department going on leave for a considerable period, it is proposed that the ASHAs possessing the requisite qualification may be appointed against the leave vacancies of ANMs and Ayahs.
4) ASHAs to be brought under the framework of organized sector: Work experience as an ASHA to be given weightage in the recruitment of ANMs and Staff Nurse, by doing so slowly and gradually we can bring ASHAs under the framework of organized sector.
5) Supply of android mobile phone: As every ASHA is expected to be a fountainhead of community participation in public health programmes in her village. The pre-paid android mobile phones will be for specific usage to promote health programmes. It will help ASHAs communicate effectively with the people as well as the health system, such as doctors, nurses and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs). Several states viz. Karnataka, Haryana etc. have taken initiatives in providing android mobile phone with Closed User Group (CUG) SIM cards under the NRHM.
6) Monetary assistance to ASHAs during Self Pregnancy period: An ASHA worker during her pregnancy need to be paid monthly monetary assistance equivalent to her fixed monthly remuneration at least for a period of six months for self-care during pregnancy from third trimester (seventh to nine month) and new-born care up to three months.